Salmon Fishing at the Mouth of the Columbia River

August 21, 1989

Mark is at extreme left in the group waiting to board the fishing boat for our salmon fishing trip at the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon.

We had dicided to join Bob on a salmon fishing trip from the small port town of Ilwaco on the southernmost tip of Washington. We crawled out of bed at about 4:40 AM for the drive to Beaverton. There we joined Bob, Steve, Dan and John at John and Mary's apartment and went on in convoy to the norternmost tip of Oregon at Astoria and then across theColumbia River to Ilwaco.

Bob had arranged the trip and we were his guests. He had been told that the boat would go out at 8:30AM into the ocean, but when we got there we were told that the ocean had been closed to salmon fishing and twe would have to fish in the mouth of the Columbia River. The departure time had also been shifted to 9:30 so we went to a restaurant for some breakfast.

Finally at about 10 AM we left Wanda to explore the shops and do some studying and we headed out in a 46 ft fishing boat. We went out the channel to the mouth of the Columbia, which was just like being in the ocean - you could barely see the shore in one direction.

Above is the boat just ahead of us heading out of the marina. As we worked our way out of the harbor, we could see the low clouds hanging over t he trees. It was t he kind of weather we expected on the cool Pacific waters, and was reminiscent of weather we had in Wales.

We went out with a crowd of other boats, and I thought that was just because it was the optimum time for the tide or something. When we reached Bouy 10 there were hundreds of boats there! A huge fleet of boats from 18 to 50 feet circled the large red metal Buoy 10. The captain and deckhand were unimpressed - they said that there were about 4000 boats out there on Saturday and Sunday. The captain said that boats just barely cleared each others fishing poles on Sunday. The buoys mark the entrance to the river, so they were the limit of fishing territory upon the closing of the ocean to fishing. So this huge flotilla of boats was crowding the limit and circling Buoy 10.

Charles and Bob were disappointed because they thought we would be fishing in the ocean and thought we would catch our limit of two per person in salmon and head back in by noon. As it was, the fishing was slow and we stayed out from 10AM to 5PM. This was fine with Mark and I since this was all a new experience for us.

The joy of fishing!

Bob and Stephen are fishing from the starboard side, while Mark takes the port side. We are sitting out in the broad mouth of the Columbia, in sight of land but in a wide expanse of water. There were boats everywhere!

John's full rainsuit is indicative of the weather. It was windy, damp and cool, with rain showers all day, but exhilirating. In fact, with such bad weather, this was a good way to spend the day. I was pleased to get to spend some time with the guys. I was amazed to see a large freighter coming - plowing through in the main shipping channel surrounded by the small boats.

A short while later an even bigger freighter came through, and from our perspective it looked like it was just plowing through the small boats. Heading for Astoria or further up the Columbia River, the ships came through regularly and the swarm of small boats would have to part to let them through. It was like the parting of a swarm of gnats as a bird flew through.

Mark lands a nice salmon. Mark did very well, hooking five salmon and landing two nice ones, his limit. His were coho or "silver" salmon. I caught a king salmon which would have to be 24" long to keep - mine was 23" so I had to throw it back. Steve caught two and Dan one.

I think you'd have to say that we visited a popular fishing place. If our experience was typical, then you could understand why. We made our way back through the dozens of fishing boats, very satisfied with our catch of salmon and with the experience overall.

At the end of the day Charles and Wanda and Mark and I headed south across the high bridge to Astoria and ate dinner at a nice restaurant overlooking the pier. Then we headed for Albany and reached their house about 10:30 PM - a long but enjoyable day.

To Oregon tour and Crater Lake
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